Chiarello's classic omelette technique

  • Preparation Time5 mins
  • Cooking Time2 mins
  • Serves4
  • DifficultyHard
3 large eggs per person
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 ts freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp unsalted butter, per omelet
Melted butter, optional
Spinaci alla padella, recipe follows
Grilled red onions, recipe follows
Salami bits, recipe follows
Caponata "Agrodolce", recipe follows
For spinaci (spinach) alla padella (frying pan):
2 1/2 tbsp salt
4 (280g) bags spinach, washed, big stems removed, or 900g raw, roughly torn mustard greens
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp thinly sliced garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges

For the grilled red onions

2 red onions, peeled and sliced 1-cm
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salami bits

500g salami, very finely minced with the medium blade of a meat grinder
2 tbsp olive oil

For the caponata "agrodolce"

250ml olive oil
3 medium eggplants, cut into small dice
3 small courgettes, quartered into 1-cm pieces
3 small yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1-cm pieces
2 onions, chopped into 1-cm pieces
6 celery ribs, cut into 1-cm slices
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
375ml red wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
125g roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
125g kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
120g capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
500ml prepared marinara sauce
1) Break the eggs into a bowl and season with salt and pepper; lightly beat with a fork.

2) Heat a 25-cm nonstick saute pan with 15g unsalted butter. When butter begins to crackle pour in beaten eggs and cook for 10 seconds, just so the eggs begin to set on the bottom. Immediately scrape the sides towards the middle using a plastic utensil. Stir almost continuously until the omelet is cooked to your liking. Allow 2 minutes for a well cooked omelet. To roll the omelet, flip one half over toward the middle, while tilting the pan.

3) Add the filling of your choice and continue rolling omelet over itself. Roll the omelet on to a serving plate. Make a slit with a paring knife to expose some of the filling and drizzle some melted butter on top, if desired.

*Chef's Note: To serve a make-your-own omelet bar, make omelets to order and offer toppings: Spinaci alla Padella, Grilled Red Onions, Salami Bits, Caponata and a selection of cheeses.

1) For the Spinaci (Spinach) alla Padella (Frying Pan): Bring 3.8 litres of water to boil in a large pot with 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt. Add the spinach, pushing it down into the water with a skimmer, and immediately remove it to a bowl of ice water. Drain the spinach once cooled (don't leave it in for too long) and squeeze out the water. Divide spinach into 4 sections and compress each into a ball (each ball will be about 225g and they can be wrapped in cling film and refrigerated for up to a day). Cut each ball in half and then in half again to chop up the spinach. Place 60ml of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic to the pan and shake the pan often, for about 1 minute or until the garlic is lightly browned. Add the spinach and saute; for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. It will seem dry. Remove the spinach to a bowl, sprinkle with a little olive oil and garnish with lemon wedges. 2) Variations: Try adding some chopped anchovy with the garlic.

3) For creamed spinach: substitute butter for half of the oil and add 240ml of double cream as you cook the spinach.

4) For the grilled red onions: reheat a grill or a grill pan. Lightly brush the onion slices with olive oil. Place on the grill and cook about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into bite-sized pieces or serve whole.

5) For the salami bits: Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Place salami in heated pan. Drizzle salami with olive oil, and cook, stirring. The salami will give off steam in about 5 minutes while it releases its moisture. When the hiss of steam turns to a sizzle, turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the salami bits are crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bits to several thicknesses of paper towel to drain. The bits will crisp even more as they cool. Use immediately or freeze the bits for up to 6 months and warm in a skillet, as needed.

6) For the caponata "agrodolce" (sweet and sour): In a very hot pan, separately cook the vegetables over a medium-high flame with a bit of the olive oil. Cook the onions and the garlic together in the same pan in a little more oil. Set all cooked vegetables aside in a large bowl. Make the "agrodolce": Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and reduce by half over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. While vegetables are still warm, combine with the roasted peppers, olives, and capers. Pour the "agrodolce" vinegar over the vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped herbs and marinara sauce and stir. Serve the caponata at room temperature.

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